- The Leapfrog Group released its 2018 Top Hospitals list Tuesday, with Florida's 18 awardees bumping last year's list leader California into second place with 17 top hospitals. Texas and New Jersey also had strong showings, with 13 and 12 top hospitals, respectively.
- The list recognizes 118 hospitals spanning 23 states and the District of Columbia. Included are 35 general hospitals, 13 children's hospitals, 53 teaching hospitals and 17 rural hospitals.
- The Leapfrog Group gathers data for the award through its hospital survey, which compares hospitals' performance on patient safety, quality, efficiency and management structures that reduce errors.
To earn the award, hospitals are rated on features such as preventing infections, reducing C-sections, use of technology to provide safer care and leadership policies and practices.
The Top Hospital methodology includes scoring an A in Leapfrog's latest safety grades and meeting the group's standards for computerized physician order entry, ICU physician staffing and policy on never events. They also must report on all performance measures, with the exception of either medication reconciliation or pediatric CAHPS (consumer assessment of healthcare providers and systems), which are new to the Leapfrog survey. That exception will not be available for next year's Top Hospitals contenders.
"We're encouraged by the hard work of Top Hospitals, as well as all of the hospitals that compete for this award, Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, said in a statement. "Their transparency and determination delivers the best possible care in their communities."
The 2018 methodology adds four new elements to the Leapfrog never events policy: interview patients/families to inform root cause analysis, inform patient/families of actions taken by the hospital to prevent similar never events in the future, establish a protocol to support caregivers involved in never events, and perform an annual review to ensure compliance with the never events policy for each such event that occurred.
Meanwhile, U.S. News & World Report and CMS are also changing up their methodologies for ranking hospital quality.
U.S. News tweaked the methodology for its 2018-19 Best Hospital rankings earlier this year, adding more outcome and patient experience measures and changing how risk-adjusted mortality rates are used. Ben Harder, chief of health analysis for the publication, outlined additional changes at the magazine's annual Healthcare for Tomorrow conference last month in Washington, D.C. They include replacing patient safety indicators with hospital CAHPS in specialty hospital rankings and adding two more outcome measures — how likely it is a discharged patient will be sent to an institutional setting and the likelihood such a stay will be prolonged.
In a preview report released Friday, CMS revealed two updates to its star ratings methodology. The first is the "removal of measures with statistically significant negative loadings," while the second alters the way healthcare-associated infections metrics in the safety of care group are weighted.
The American Hospital Association has criticized the star rating system on grounds it oversimplifies data and penalizes hospitals with higher shares of low-income patients.